Posts in Pasta
Butternut Squash Gnocchi
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Butternut squash is quite the embraced autumnal ingredient, but it lends itself well to the following season and its wintry meals. Roasted squash incorporated into pasta dough makes for a delicious kind of gnocchi. No sauce is ladled over plates of this pasta to allow that squash flavor to come into focus, and so only some butter and a mixture of walnuts, kale, and parmesan along with a good crack of fresh pepper accompanies it all. My preferred method of toasting the gnocchi in the butter after boiling gives it a caramelized outer crust that adds a lovely textural layer.

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Butternut Squash Gnocchi

  • 1 large butternut squash

  • 2 eggs

  • Approximately 6 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • Unsalted butter

  • Olive oil

  • Salt* and pepper, to taste

  • Garnishes: chopped walnuts, thinly sliced kale, and grated parmesan

*No salt is added in this recipe to the pasta dough to account for salted cooking water. Be sure that the water you cook the pasta in has plenty of salt in it, as this will flavor the pasta from the inside out while cooking. If you taste the gnocchi after cooking and the water wasn’t salted enough, simply add a bit of flakey salt on top.

To make the pasta:

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub with a bit of olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes or until very soft. Scoop out the butternut squash from the skin and measure out four cups, discarding or saving for another use any remaining squash. Allow to cool completely.

Using a mixer, blend together the squash and eggs until there are no lumps in the squash and the eggs are completely incorporated. Add the nutmeg and ground cloves. Switch from the mixer to a spoon and begin adding the flour one cup at a time. You will need approximately six cups of flour to make the dough not overly sticky - do not add more than needed or knead the dough or else the gnocchi will be tough and rubbery. Cut the dough into eight equal pieces, rolling each piece into a log about one inch in diameter. Cut into bite sized pieces.

Using a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork, roll each piece for a shell-like design. Otherwise, continue with the cut pieces - they will be just as delicious!

Note: This recipe makes a large amount of gnocchi, enough to fill a gallon sized ziplock bag. I like to make this pasta in advance, spreading the pasta on a few trays in the freezer, chilling until no longer soft, and moving all of it into a freezer safe bag or container. This way, you can make as much or as little gnocchi as you like at any given time. The pasta will only take a minute or two longer to cook if frozen.

To cook the pasta:

Bring a large pot to a boil and heat a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place two tablespoons unsalted butter into the skillet, adding a tablespoon more for each batch. Cook the gnocchi in batches; when they float to the top, they’re finished cooking. Transfer each batch to the hot skillet with the melted butter, shaking the pan a time or two to make sure the pasta isn’t sticking to the bottom. Toast until the gnocchi is slightly crispy on the bottom and beginning to brown and transfer to a serving plate. Do this for the rest of the pasta.

Garnish or toss with chopped walnuts, thinly sliced kale, and parmesan. Add freshly cracked pepper and serve warm.

PastaAdelle EsborgComment
Whole Wheat Farfalle with Fig and Toasted Walnut Pesto
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This fig and walnut pesto is a slightly sweet twist on a classic sauce. Toasted walnuts give the flavor a bit of depth to compliment salty parmigiano reggiano, bright fresh basil, and rich olive oil. Dried figs are first hydrated in warm water then plunked into the other ingredients before being blended into a deliciously different sort of pesto. It’s not overly sweet in any way; the figs add just a slight hint.

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I chose to toss the pesto with some hearty whole wheat farfalle pasta, but any pasta will do. I like to top it with a generous amount of shaved parmigiano, and you can add a handful of extra toasted walnuts if you’d like. It would also make for a lovely spread for sandwiches or a delicious addition to roasted vegetables. Enjoy!

Sincerely, Adelle

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Whole Wheat Farfalle with Fig and Toasted Walnut Pesto

Depending on how much farfalle you choose to make, you may have pesto left over. I recommend making the whole amount of sauce, and saving any leftovers for another day.

  • 1 cup fresh basil, tightly packed

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 cup walnuts

  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

  • 6 dried turkish figs

  • Farfalle pasta, up to 16 oz

  • Salt, to taste

  • Shaved parmigiano reggiano, for topping

Place the figs in a bowl filled with warm water and allow to hydrate and soften for 30 minutes. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts until warm and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.

Blend the basil, olive oil, cheese, and figs in a blender or food processor and blend until well combined. Add the toasted walnuts and blend. Add salt to taste.

Boil the pasta, and drain. Spoon the pesto over the pasta, tossing to coat, and top with shaved parmigiano.


PastaAdelle EsborgComment
Homemade Fettuccine Pasta with Fresh Heirloom Tomatoes and Garlic Butter
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Heirloom tomatoes, amongst other things, are an unadulterated sweetness of summer. They have a deep dramatic flavor and a soft flesh that melts in your mouth, tempting you to believe they are indeed some fruit. When ripened on the vine and gathered at the farmer's market, they are truly something so very different from the grainy, tasteless supermarket tomatoes shipped from miles away. These are deserving of being eaten raw, really not needing much of anything to help their flavor along.

After bringing home a tote full of these tomatoes from the market on a searing hot Saturday, I conjured up a recipe that would preserve their perfect raw flavor instead of changing it by heating, adding sliced pieces at the very end of cooking pasta instead of turning them into a bubbling stovetop sauce. I think the addition of fresh tomatoes and basil, cool from being nestled in a shaded countertop corner and touched by no heated pan, helps make a dish of just-boiled pasta not quite as overwhelmingly warm for a hot summer's supper.

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Eating fresh pasta made by your own hand is nothing short of satisfying. When I first started making pasta at home, I was surprised at how simple it is: combine the humblest of ingredients, eggs and flour, and you have pasta.

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There are pasta machines that feature a hand crankpasta attachments for stand mixers, and electric ones that perform their task very quickly. It may be an investment, but if you love pasta and are intrigued by making it at home, it's worth it. I use this machine for making pasta, but with a bit of elbow grease and a steady hand, you can make it without a machine. Roll the divided dough very thinly, and slice thin strips with a pastry cutter - I promise it will be worth your while. Of course, store-bought fettuccine pasta will work beautifully in this recipe if you so choose and make for an easy, quick meal for a weeknight.

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When heating the sliced garlic in the salted butter, watch its color carefully. When the butter is bubbling and just before the garlic browns, quickly take it off the heat so as to not risk burning it and spoon over the pasta. This quick toast helps to mellow the garlic's potency just slightly and flavors the butter, destined for drizzling over fresh fettuccine. A quick addition of shaved parmigiano-reggiano at the end is encouraged!

Sincerely, Adelle

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HOMEMADE FETTUCCINE PASTA WITH FRESH HEIRLOOM TOMATOES AND GARLIC BUTTER

Serves four

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • Filtered water, added to the pasta dough 1/2 tablespoon at a time 
  • 2 ripe heirloom tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup basil, sliced into ribbons
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • Parmigiano-reggiano, finely grated, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil

Measure the flour and pour into a bowl, then make a well in the middle for the eggs. Add the eggs, then use a fork to gently whisk them. Once whisked, gradually introduce flour to the whisked eggs with the fork while stirring. Once enough flour has been combined, set the fork aside, and knead the dough. Add water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is no longer dry but not yet sticky (if it's sticky, you can add a bit more flour). Alternatively, use a food processor to combine the eggs and flour, adding the eggs one at a time and then the water, pulsing the machine until it forms into a ball.

Knead the pasta dough about two minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and rest the dough for 15 minutes at the least. This will keep the dough from tensing up as you try to roll it out. While you're waiting, fill a large pot with water and a generous helping of salt, and place it over high heat to bring it to a boil.

While the water is heating and after the dough has rested, divide the dough into eight pieces. Using a pasta machine, feed a piece at a time through the roller set at the widest position, dusting generously with flour so as to help the dough not stick. Roll the dough thinner and thinner by adjusting the rollers to the next narrow setting each time. Keep going until the pasta is quite thin, to where you can just see your hand through it. Repeat with the rest of the dough, then place on parchment paper with a generous amount of flour in between if they are resting on top of one another, or side by side.

Using a fettuccine cutting attachment on the machine, run the sheets of pasta through one by one, tossing with more flour (or semolina, if you have some on hand) once they are cut into noodles to be sure that they don't stick together. Place gently back on parchment, repeat with each sheet, and by now the water should be boiling.

Place the fettuccine in the boiling water. It will cook fast, as it is fresh, needing only about a minute or so. Drain the pasta,  being sure to reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water to add later.

Toss the freshly cooked pasta with a generous few glugs of good olive oil. Add the sliced tomatoes, ribbons of basil, a good amount of grated parmigiano, and a bit of pepper. Taste before adding salt, as the pasta should have absorbed some of the salt in the cooking water. Add the 1/3 cup of cooking water, and toss.

Over medium low heat, melt the salted butter and add the sliced garlic, stirring until the butter just begins to bubble. Take off the heat before the garlic begins to brown, and pour over the pasta. Serve with an extra bit of grated cheese on top.


Penne Rigate with with Roasted Cauliflower Florets, Arugula, and Basil Leaves
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It's already July and these longer, hotter days always cause me to crave dishes with fresh vegetables. Though munching on juicy berries and sweet watermelon is perfect for summertime snacking, something filling is needed by dinnertime. This penne recipe is by no means heavy as a creamy or meat sauce-laced pasta can be, but doesn't skimp on taste with plenty of parmesan and cauliflower caramelized by roasting.

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Basil, to me, is the taste of summer and whole leaves are thrown into this dish. Arugula adds a fresh peppery flavor, to balance the plentitude of rich shaved parmesan. These are tossed in at the end, after dressing the pasta with olive oil along with lemon juice and zest.

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Though historically I haven't been the most fond of cauliflower, I was converted after trying a roasting method that allows the edges to become caramelized and almost crispy, a far cry from the raw or boiled versions. Be sure not to crowd the pan, giving each floret more than enough space between another, as this will help them roast rather than steam and become soft. 

Sincerely, Adelle

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Penne Rigate with with Roasted Cauliflower Florets, Arugula, and Basil Leaves

Serves Four

  • 1 lb or 5 cups uncooked penne rigate pasta (I used whole wheat)
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets or 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets about 2 inches in size*
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for drizzling and tossing
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • Zest of 1 lemon and a bit of lemon juice, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Shaved parmesan

*In order to roast the cauliflower well, be sure that the florets are as dry as possible. I tend to prefer to purchase pre-cut, pre-rinsed florets from the grocery store if I am planning to roast them as they are already quite dry. If you decide to use a head of cauliflower that has been rinsed, allow the cauliflower to dry on the countertop for a few hours. This helps the cauliflower to become browned and caramelized rather than steam due to the moisture.

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees.

Toss the cauliflower florets in a bowl with olive oil, making sure that every part of each floret is well coated. Do not add salt at this time, as that can keep them from browning well. Place the florets on a baking sheet or roasting pan (my favorite roasting pan is this one), making sure that none are touching and they are sufficiently spaced, as this affects their browning as well. If they are bunched too close together, they will steam instead of caramelize as they roast. Place the cauliflower in the hot oven, and bake for 15 minutes, toss to evenly brown, then 15 minutes more. Set the roasted cauliflower aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the unsalted butter, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and the minced garlic. Cook until the garlic is just beginning to brown, then add the cauliflower and toss with the buttery garlic. When the pasta is al dente, spoon into the dutch oven and toss with the cauliflower and garlic along with a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Take off the heat, and toss with the arugula and the zest of one lemon as well as a good squeeze of lemon juice (add to taste). Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with basil leaves and shaved parmesan. You may add an additional drizzle of olive oil if the pasta seems too dry.